Friday, January 29, 2021

Gabrielle Korn Interview - Everybody (Else) Is Perfect

Photo Credit: Lauren Perlstein

Gabrielle Korn is an editor and journalist. She currently works at Netflix. Under her guidance as the former editor in chief of Nylon Media, Nylon became a fully digital brand with an ever-growing audience and original, politically driven, thought-provoking content. She graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2011 with a concentration in feminist/queer theory and writing. She lives in Brooklyn.


What inspired you to pen your first book?
When I wrote this book, I was the editor in chief of Nylon. I was the youngest person and first lesbian to do it. I'd experienced incredible professional success, but at the cost of my own well-being and my personal life. I started writing about what was happening to me — the insane breakups, my eating disorder, fighting for raises at work — and eventually a thesis took shape, about the ways young women are trapped by a culture that we participate in.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I was very influenced by the way Roxane Gay writes about her body and her relationship to food; the frankness and vulnerability in Melissa Broder's writing about mental illness; and the way Michelle Tea writes about queerness.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Just getting to officially say that I'm an author is probably the most rewarding!

In your newest book; EVERYBODY (ELSE) IS PERFECT, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
It's personal essays about what it was like finding success in women's media but having to sacrifice my own self to do it, combined with cultural criticism about the industry and social media. It's extremely personal and intimate. I talk about things that are taboo, to this day: money, sex, queerness. I'm told it's darkly funny, which was the goal!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Work! All I wanted was to have time to write, and all I had was work and work and work.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I studied critical theory in school, which I think in many ways taught me how to think.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
Jellyfish have 24 eyes. That means they see in a 360-degree view.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
Probably my engagement ring! I picked it out for myself. I am very picky.

Best date you've ever had?
Very early on in my relationship with my fiance, we went to Paris for two weeks on a whim. It was the best fourteen-day date ever.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
Oh gosh. I wouldn't go back to any point in time in my own life.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I was a greeter at a fancy jewelry store in high school. The job sucked but they let me wear the jewelry which ruled.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I think the period of time in my mid-20s when I was starting to become successful in a glamorous world but being a total mess in my personal life would probably be a movie that someone somewhere might find good.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
Probably not for many many years. I have TERRIBLE handwriting so I avoid writing on paper at all costs. No one else can ever read it.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
That I have some big glaring flaw that's obvious to everyone but me.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
The day that my agent started getting real offers on my book proposal was the best day as a writer. It meant that people not only took me seriously but were actually willing to pay me money to write a book.

  • 1. When you strip all the pretense away—the things our culture says make you an empowered woman—what’s left? Who are we, as contemporary feminists, without capitalism?
  • 2. I understood that as a white Jewish lesbian, the parts of my identity that might marginalize me were largely invisible; I was benefiting from the system while being tokenized by it.
  • 3. The stress of coming out at nineteen in 2008 was a convenient excuse to turn down solids for long enough to achieve the sort of androgynously emaciated silhouette that all the dykes were going for in the aughts, special thanks to The L Word.
  • 4. We're repeatedly told we should want to look young. Our culture is, in fact, obsessed with it; the global anti aging industry was valued at 250 billion dollars in 2016 and has grown year over year ever since. But if we do look young, and furthermore if we are young, we’re treated like we don’t know anything. For a culture that is so preoccupied with maintaining female youth, we certainly have quite a few parameters around what kind of power that youth is allowed to access.
  • 5. Just like there’s no right way to have ambition when you’re a woman, there’s no right age to be; you’re either too young or too old with nothing in between.
  • 6. I was coming of age in a time when everything was hyper-sexualized, but I didn’t understand the relationship between that and actual sex, a disconnect that’s one of the main reasons I didn’t realize I was gay until after high school: it was like being disembodied.
  • 7. When you work in fashion (and, probably, anywhere), weight loss is rewarded with compliments and attention. No matter how thin I got, my friends, coworkers, and even acquaintances “couldn’t believe” how “good” I looked. Meanwhile, I had a doctor, a nutritionist, and a therapist work- ing together to help me start eating regularly. I was about three months into recovery from what I was told was anorexia.
  • 8. I was trying so hard to be the picture-perfect empowered millennial woman, but I had gotten stuck on the “picture perfect” part. In my darkest days, I tried to find balance: every time I did something particularly crazy, like only drinking liquids for a day’s nutrition, I yelled at my social media team about not having enough body diversity on Instagram.
  • 9. In our newly woke world of marketing based on “positivity,” the blame is once again placed on women—but this time, it’s not our bodies that are wrong; it’s our feelings about our bodies.
  • 10. Corporations have learned the language of contemporary digital feminism, and they’re using it to stay relevant to consumers who are sick of being made to feel worse about themselves. They’re selling our own ideas back to us, as a millennial-pink means to an end that hasn’t changed one bit.
Your journey to publication
My literary agent Nicki Richesin cold emailed me while I was working at Nylon. I was writing a lot of articles at the time so I had the privilege of being visible in the industry. I still remember what the email looked like. The subject was "Your writing" and she said she'd been following my work and was wondering if I'd ever thought about writing a book. From there, the rest was equally dreamy. She helped me craft a proposal and then took it to auction, and boom, suddenly I had a book deal.

My friends and family were incredibly supportive. They knew how much it meant to me, how it was something I'd always wanted. My fiance and I went out to dinner the night the final deal came through.

My two sisters were the first people who I let read my raw copy once I started writing it, and they were really helpful at pointing out the ways in which I hadn't been fair to the people I was writing about. I ended up writing as much as I could and then doing an edit for empathy, trying to understand where people were coming from and also trying to imagine what they'd feel when they saw it.

A few of my friends also read drafts as I went. I mostly just needed constant reassurance that it wasn't bad. That is actually still something I need.

The final book was due a month after I had to leave my job at Nylon. I had most of it written and just needed to redo the final chapter, which was convenient because my life now had a new final chapter, too. I spend those four weeks basically on the couch in my pajamas clutching my laptop. When I wrote that last paragraph, I burst into tears, and that's how I knew it was done.

From the former editor-in-chief of Nylon comes a provocative and intimate collection of personal and cultural essays featuring eye-opening explorations of hot button topics for modern women, including internet feminism, impossible beauty standards in social media, shifting ideals about sexuality, and much more.

Gabrielle Korn starts her professional life with all the right credentials. Prestigious college degree? Check. A loving, accepting family? Check. Instagram-worthy offices and a tight-knit group of friends? Check, check. Gabrielle’s life seems to reach the crescendo of perfect when she gets named the youngest editor-in-chief in the history of one of fashion’s most influential publication. Suddenly she’s invited to the world’s most epic parties, comped beautiful clothes and shoes from trendy designers, and asked to weigh in on everything from gay rights to lip gloss on one of the most influential digital platforms.

But behind the scenes, things are far from perfect. In fact, just a few months before landing her dream job, Gabrielle’s health and wellbeing are on the line, and her promotion to editor-in-chief becomes the ultimate test of strength. In this collection of inspirational and searing essays, Gabrielle reveals exactly what it’s truly like in the fashion world, trying to find love as a young lesbian in New York City, battling with anorexia, and trying not to lose herself in a mirage of women’s empowerment and Instagram perfection.

Through deeply personal essays, Gabrielle recounts her struggles to reconcile her long-held insecurities about her body while coming out in the era of The L Word, where swoon-worthy lesbians are portrayed as skinny, fashion-perfect, and power-hungry. She takes us with her everywhere from New York Fashion Week to the doctor’s office, revealing that the forces that try to keep women small are more pervasive than anyone wants to admit, especially in a world that’s been newly branded as woke.

From #MeToo to commercialized body positivity, Korn’s biting, darkly funny analysis turns feminist commentary on its head. Both an in-your-face take on impossible beauty standards and entrenched media ideals and an inspiring call for personal authenticity, this powerful collection is ideal for fans of Roxane Gay and Rebecca Solnit.

You can purchase Everybody (Else) Is Perfect at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you GABRIELLE KPRN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Everybody (Else) Is Perfect by Gabrielle Korn.